Tuesday 5th October to Saturday 9th October 2004
Directed by Pete Woodward
Do men really think about sex every 7 seconds?
It has long been acknowledged that Mamet's ear for the tough, authentic voice of urban America is unsurpassed in modern theatre. This is expressed in this play where Bernie, Danny, Deborah and Joan, driven by impulses both primitive and subtle, grapple with themselves and each other in their desire to establish relationships of real fulfilment. And always, it seems, the prize remains tantalisingly out of reach.
Often hilarious, always perceptive, this play unflinchingly addresses the fears and longings that we all, perhaps, have had to face.
'Sexual Perversity in Chicago' is one of David Mamet's earliest plays. Written in 1974, it premiered at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. As the title implies, it is set in various locations (bars, offices, apartments, the beach, etc.) in Mamet's home town of Chicago.
The main plot point is Danny and Deborah's relationship, perpetuating much of the dialogue about men and women. Their romance is quickly established by sexual attraction, but as the play progresses and Deborah moves into Danny's apartment, they are unable to talk with each other seriously. The characters' relationships become hindered by the caustic nature of their words, as much of the dialogue includes insults and arguments and a great deal of swearing.
A 2003 West End revival starred Matthew Perry (his stage debut in a West End production) Minnie Driver, Hank Azaria and Kelly Reilly.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Dan Shapiro||Nathan Chapman|
|Bernard Litko||Damon Wakelin|
|Deborah Soloman||Robin Hall|
|Joan Webber||Lynda Fleming|
|Stage Manager||Martin McBride|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Jeff Bone|
|Lighting Design||Jacquie Penrose|
|Lighting Operation||Derek Callam|
|Sound Recordist||Darryl Wakelin|
|Sound Operation||Sharman Callam|
|TV Voice||Alan Welton|
|Set Design||David Penrose|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
|Front of House||Sharman Callam|
As some of our regular patrons, and most of the Bench members will already know, my enthusiasm for the works of David Mamet borders on the obsessive. I refuse to apologise for this. I blame, entirely, those members of the Bench who, in 1983, organised a trip to the National Theatre in London to see a new play called 'Glengarry Glen Ross'.
So impressed was I that, a few years later (1992), I somehow persuaded the company to allow me to direct the play here. Its success then relied solely on a superb, committed group of actors, and now I have a similar, only younger, team for 'Sexual Perversity in Chicago'.
The ability to have characters appear to be speaking words they have only just thought about in immediate response to a particular situation or another character's utterance, I find fascinating and in my experience no one does this better than David Mamet. It may seem to an audience there actually exists no script, that what is happening on stage is random and improvised but, of course, it is not. The text is written as you will hear it - every word.
All scripts are hard to learn, but I would fancy that a text by Mamet is harder than most: its broken, overlapping, naturalistic rhythms demanding an accuracy and precision from the actors that test the most talented.
I am proud to have had four such actors put themselves forward to make this play with me and all the others mentioned in this programme. I am grateful to them all for their help.
Preparing and rehearsing Sexual Perversity in Chicago has, for me, been exciting, rewarding and, above all, enjoyable. I hope you find this evening just as good.
The Bench Theatre gave an excellent performance of David Mamet's masterpiece. The cast of four all gave winning performances in this hilarious-yet-profound play. David Mamet is brilliant both on characterisation and dialogue and this was the foundation of the play, dealing with relationships and sexual mores in a warm and witty manner.
Damon Wakelin gave a great performance as the laddish fantasist Bernard. He was well supported by Nathan Chapman as his more sophisticated friend, Dan, and Robin Hall as Dan's attractive girlfriend, Deborah. Lynda Fleming completed the cast as Joan, the jealous flatmate of Deborah. The short, sharp scenes were cleverly joined together by some atmospheric jazz music in this beautifully directed play.
The News, 6th October 2004